Thursday, July 08, 2004


The latest PC looniness seems to be this: "At The Cullinan Education Center, there are no learning disabilities, only "learning differences." The same site then goes on to describe at length what a big disability one of those "differences" (dyslexia) is. Anybody who has known a dyslectic will be aware that it very handicapping -- far more than being a mere "difference".

And according to this site, even autism is a mere "difference" too. Some difference! Autism is VERY disabling and distressing.


The British communications regulator is as Orwellian as it sounds

"Central to all of these assumptions is a contemptuous view of the public's ability to think, argue and act for itself. It is assumed by regulators that true and desirable opinion cannot win public acceptance, unless they intervene to guarantee that it is heard; that untrue and undesirable opinion threatens to win public acceptance, unless they intervene to guarantee that it is not heard; and that the public is incapable of refuting hurtful or misinformed media content without their help. Public debate, independent of any involvement by the regulator, is mistrusted - if it is recognised at all.

This contempt is illustrated by the fifth of Ofcom's duties, 'applying adequate protection for audiences against offensive or harmful material'. In what sense are words, images and sounds 'harmful', beyond the fact that they happen to cause offence? And whether or not something offends is an entirely subjective question, which cannot legitimately be decided upon by the 13 members of Ofcom's content board .

Anything that expresses strong opinions is bound to offend at least some people - which is hardly a reason for regulating it. This does not mean that all offensive content has value, but rather that all offensive content has to establish its value in the court of public opinion, for which Ofcom is not a legitimate representative, supplement or substitute. There are, of course, types of content associated with tangible harm, most notably child pornography. But in these instances, the activity depicted is already criminal, and not sufficient justification for new forms of content regulation.

Discussing Ofcom's 'duty to promote media literacy', Tessa Jowell, the UK secretary of state for culture, media and sport, recently argued that 'we need to make sure people are equipped to protect themselves and their families from material which they would find harmful or distasteful'. But the fact that just about every communications device has an 'off' switch means that people are, in fact, 'equipped to protect themselves'. Furthermore, it is the job of editors to be responsible for the content that they publish, not the job of Ofcom to take on the editor's role.

Far from deregulating the communications sector, Ofcom is fast becoming a one-stop shop for politicians and lobby groups who want to use it to impose their particular agendas upon the media. Making requests to Ofcom is a fast-track alternative to legislation, and has the advantage of seeming less heavy-handed than the law - even though the only real difference is that new laws at least have to be debated in Parliament before they can be introduced and enforced".

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